Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Random bullets of mid-February

  •  Writing inspiration: This may not sound like much of a win, but I finally (finally!) finished the piece I've been moaning about here for lo these many months. I thought for a while I'd be like Mr. Casaubon in Middlemarch, gathering sources for The Key to All Mythologies until I keeled over at my desk, but not so. That's done, but wait--what's that on the horizon in a couple of weeks? A conference paper for which I made all sorts of rash promises? 
  • At least having finished one thing means I can finish something else. I'd become--what's the writing word for gun-shy? write-shy?-- and this has restored my confidence.
  • Being in an accountability writing group and a sit-and-write group has helped a lot.
  • Teaching: I am loving teaching my old-school type classes this semester and the students seem to be doing all right with it, too. 
  • Maybe it's a post-Covid phenomenon, but it feels as though they have a hard time sitting still and not participating, and since participation is what we want anyway as teachers, I'm leaning into it. And really, how is their difficulty in sitting still any different from ours when we're trapped in a meeting where our betters are discussing obvious points, world without end?
  • Do any of you feel as though you have another part-time job just attending all the meetings, presentations, etc. that your colleagues have arranged? 
  • Have you ever been in a group project where if one person--call him Comrade X--is outvoted in a decision, he will bide his time and come back to it over and over and over again to try to bend everyone else to his will since he is always right? Asking for a friend.
  • There needs to be space in the middle of all this for imagination, but that space is in short supply right now.


Dame Eleanor Hull said...

No, that's not an actual conference paper. It's just . . . some thoughts, some quotes on slides, some relevant images . . . it'll be fine!
It's not.
Carthago delenda est.

xykademiqz said...

I'm resonating HARD with this entire post. I could spend a very full work week every week on just service and teaching; research, service, and teaching all together feel like two full-time jobs. As for academic writing, I've been feeling very disconnected from it all. My writing hobby and now marketing & promo have been taking up all my headspace. The only reason I can do this is because I have tenure, so a little slacking off won't jeopardize my job. But the disconnect is real, and when it's time to edit my students' drafts I get quickly reminded why it's so tedious. Regarding teaching, I find that students actively dislike anything having to be done online. They won't take summer classes because those are online. The kids crave (CRAVE) in-person interactions, they want to be in a lecture hall and hear a lecture and take notes and ask questions.

Julie said...

Don't get me started on the meetings...

I'm in the UK, maybe things are different in the US, but finding that students here really aren't getting back into old-style teaching. Attendance is terrible. I don't think they want to be back online: most of them hated it, and none of them are asking for it as far as I'm aware. But they don't show up for in-person classes. Lectures are recorded, and have been since a year or so before Covid, and were never compulsory, so it's not surprising, if demoralising, that lecture attendance is poor. But seminars are meant to be compulsory and it used to be considered good manners to send apologies if you were ill, or had some emergency. Now about a third to a half skip, and most don't bother with a heads-up. Some do clearly want to learn: they show up and ask questions, but they are the minority, and even then, attendance isn't 100%.

Iansan said...

On the group projects, with the colleague who keeps trying to revisit things, if it's in my department then that's what it is, exhausting.

undine said...

Dame Eleanor--I feel oddly invigorated and terrified at the same time.

xykademiqz--two full-time jobs, yes. As for slacking off (not)--sometimes getting really excited about and working hard on something that's not directly related to the same old, same old ends up invigorating the rest when you get back to it, or that's the dream, anyway. You are so right about the students craving in-person interactions: they seem hungry for some non tech-mediated, two-factor-authenticated, screen-based learning.

Julie--Do you have to redo the lectures every semester, and is that in front of a semi-empty room? That really would be demoralizing. My understanding of the UK system, probably heavily influenced by the movies, is that seminars are not only compulsory but stimulating. It's hard to have a conversation if half the people aren't there.